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Johnny I hardly knew yah
Last updated: 01.01.21
This is another song that I grew up with. It has a wonderful chorus
    "With yah guns and drums and drums and guns, haroo, haroo.
    With yah guns and drums and drums and guns, haroo, haroo.
    With yah guns and drums and drums and guns, the enemy nearly slew yah.
     Ah Johnny ma dear, you look so queer, Johnny I hardly knew yah!"
It was only as an adult that I became aware of its anti-war character. Whilst in the Idle Fellows it was one of our favourite songs. Wilfried Drygala sang it beautifully. On good days (not very often) I would do a nice introduction and coda on the F-penny whistle.


It is interesting to note the footnotes given in the various songbooks having this song.
  • Soodlums 100 Irish Ballads Volume 2 says that this song constitutes a strong comment on the woes of war. The lyrics are thought to date from the late 19th century, while Patrick Gilmore is accredited with writing the music.
  • In Ireland Sings by Dominic Behan, he remarks:
    One of the great anti-war songs. Ireland like all revolutionary countries, maintains paradoxical attitudes to war and peace. The reasons are not so recondite, because revolutions are fought for a bit of peace from oppression.
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youtube15.jpg Johnny I hardly knew yah (3:37) The Irish Rovers